You should never plan going to the Roque Santero too far in advance. The biggest open air market in Africa could potentially, maybe, perhaps, be a little intimidating, especially due to the raving reviews (read: “Don’t go to the Roque, it’s dangerous, you will find human heads on sticks”). So, with this in mind, the best was to just…go. I mean, I was here in Angola, how could I not?
Small glitch in my plans, however, was the absolutely-no-camera-allowed unwritten rule, which means, you only have my memory and these words to live through what I did…an absolute African anthropological experience. A few snapshots:
· Law of Attraction is in full effect. The energy you put out, is what you will receive. We were three (two guys and moi), all somewhat white in an ocean of beautiful black bodies, but we blended. We stopped to buy jinguba (peanuts), got some recipes from the vegetable ladies, tried negotiating for my panos, and danced among the piles of used clothes…ok, no one else was dancing, but we got some chuckles
· Picture of the day: an old lone “costurero” (tailor) at his sewing machine surrounded by nothing except burning trash and red dirt
· An entire section just for pots…piles and piles of them. One was big enough for me to sit in, comfortably.
· Women making steaming funge in huge pots among barefoot children, a stray dog or two, street vendors and a lot of dust
· Man frying jinguba with sand (“from our own beach down there”) for “a better taste”
· Meats…you could really see poverty in this section. Every table had just a few cuts (guts, stomach, liver), no hanging carcasses, flies galore
· Curious children everywhere, stuck to us like gum in hair
· I am now officially “gostosa,” “amorzinho”, “maezinha,” and “fofa.”
· Pano section: colors, colors, colors, colors…seemed like an oasis of vibrancy against a rather desolate and dry setting
· We were almost run over (often) by little carts that squeezed through the tight little aisles
· Almost stopped to watch a movie…in big army green tents that hosted wooden benches and a large TV from the 1980s. Just fantastic.
…and then, after almost three hours of walking among dirt, burnt trash, with arms loaded with panos and idiotic smiles on our faces, we drank the most incredible liquid I have ever tasted. Coca Cola. Straight from the can.
Quote of the week: “Quem não tem cão, caça com gatos.” (He who doesn’t have dogs, hunts with cats). Africa, the land of adaptation.